Close your eyes, picture a token motorcycle dude. He has a beard doesn’t he? Keep them closed. Now picture Santa. He has a beard too right? Coincidence? I think not. During the holidays most folks feel the spirit of giving and contribute to many charities. No doubt that’s why singer Andy Williams called it ‘The most wonderful time of the year’. Did you know that the majority of motorcycle riders are in the spirit of giving year around? We’re all just that kind of people. With Christmas just around the corner, this season of giving is the perfect time for Total Motorcycle’s Gear Talk Holiday Episode. We’ll stray from the subject of riding gear and talk about some charitable acts performed throughout the year by riders just like you.
Is Santa a motorcycle rider?
Even the grungiest, weather worn, bearded, scarred, tough guy club rider would purchase a new teddy bear and strap it to his pillion to attend a Teddy Bear Charity ride to support kids in need. Google it if you don’t believe me. Beard or no beard, men and women motorcyclists attend events like these a couple times per year. Many plan ahead and attend annually. They take group pictures, share pictures and memories from previous years and gather for a meal afterward, already looking forward to next year. Some rallys have a particular theme such as a Pin Up rally where both guys and gals compete in a contest wearing the appropriate garb of the era. Clubs, organizers and social groups work tirelessly to address all the necessary details to orchestrate such events successfully.
I’ve always thought it was fun to attend bike events where biker dudes enjoy ice cream cones, caramel apples or cotton candy with those beards and mustaches. It makes me smile to think those guys support charity events for kids with teddy bears on their chrome steeds. Big teddy bears themselves, most of them wear their big hearts on their sleeves.
Any weekend when the roads aren’t covered in snow you can find a charity ride to benefit a cause. Cause’s to benefit veterans and public awareness of service members, children, folks battling severe illness, diseases or disabilities, Special Olympics, families of fallen riders or to help raise funds to pay for major medical expenses. There’s also charity rides to benefit organizations such as the annual Mayor’s ride that benefits the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department and Sturgis Police reserve. Supporting their efforts is the least we can do right? Motorcycle enthusiasts also contribute towards motorcycle museums as well as making a one-time contribution or designate reoccurring monthly donations to support forums and websites just like Total Motorcycle. We provide informative, interesting and useful content so readers can make informed decisions about safety gear and motorcycle purchases.
How Do Charity Rides Work?
Most rides begin with a cover charge, a flat fee donation of which 100% goes towards the cause. You’ll usually receive a T-shirt, a collectible patch or a hat pin to prove you were there. You’ll also get a lunch voucher and a raffle ticket (extra tickets are available for extra donations). Sponsors such as local motorcycle dealerships, bike repair / gear shops, tattoo shops, insurance agencies, bars, eateries and individual riders are solicited by club organizers and agree to donate raffle prizes such as gift certificates, discounts, gear, clothing etc. Riders gather at a motorcycle dealership, restaurant or gas station parking lot where kick stands go up at the designated time and the sound of throaty pipes roaring in tandem takes over. They ride in a group (sometimes with police escorts) and it sure is a site to behold.
What To Expect After the Ride.
Once the destination is reached the party begins with a meal and families arrive in cars to join in the festivities. There’s always meat on the grill and pot luck sides or in some cases they’re even catered. You’ll find vendors, coolers upon coolers of drinks to quench your thirst (both of the alcohol and non alcohol variety (always ride sober). It’s not uncommon to see a wet T-shirt contest on the event agenda but you’ll find that most events are family friendly. We’ve even seen bouncy houses set up for the kids. (On that note, some event rosters will also include a Chap Contest for the benefit of the ladies.)
There’s live bands or karaoke, all hosted by local personalities sporting bandannas and leather vests. You’ll see old friends, and make new ones. You’ll talk about the old days and make plans for new adventures on two wheels. Motorcycle enthusiast camaraderie at its best.
What is a Poker Run?
It is all of the above plus, well poker. When you check in as a poker run participant, you’ll receive a pre-printed card to represent your hand showing 4 columns at the top, each representing a suite on a deck of cards, below there’s a line for each card from 2 to 10, Jack, King, Queen and Ace. Additional poker hand cards are available for extra donations of course. Think of them like bingo cards, only at the end of the day they’ll probably have fold creases and smell of tobacco and leather.
The riders are given a map showing several checkpoints on their route. At each checkpoint riders will stop and be greeted by an event volunteer and pick a random card from a poker deck. The card they pick will be punched on their card and then they head towards the next checkpoint. The check points are a good place to mingle with friends and compare cards (and bikes!). Once they arrive at their destination, cards are reviewed and recorded by an event official and large prizes are given to those with the best hand of 5 card stud. Entry fee s etc. all donated to charity.
Random Acts of Kindness
Charity Rides aside, I could go on forever to describe all the selfless acts we have witnessed over the years. Allow me to name a few.
Local Riding Groups
In our neck of the woods (Northern Utah, USA), there is a group called Servant Riders Ministry. The group was established this spring (May 2018) by Chaplain Patrick Carver (President) and his lovely wife Sandra (Treasurer). The Servant Riders Ministry are a Charter of Motorcyclists for Jesus Ministries, a national organization (www.go2mjm.com).
Chaplain Patrick’s name is known far and wide as a selfless man who wears his heart on his sleeve. This group’s main focus is to reach the community at large through motorcycles and to help those in need. The Servant Rider Ministry is unique among riding associations in that they do not set limits to who receives assistance and charity. Also, there are members of the group that do not even own motorcycles and the group has women in officer positions. Thus, you can imagine the great respect that is held for Chaplain Patrick by diverse groups from police officers to members of 1%’s.
Just this year the Servant riders have organized and participated in funeral procession rides and supported the families of many fallen riders. The members go to hospitals and sit bedside with injured riders recovering or preparing for surgery. They offer words of comfort and moral support for the families in the waiting room. Among all these acts, they have collected donations for medical and living expenses while riders recover, spread the word for go fund me accounts set up to benefit riders and their families when they need it the most. Recently, the group has organized big charity events for the benefit of two very special children as well as an Christmas miracle for a local family in need. For more info please visit www.servantriders.com.
Christian Riding Organizations
When we attended the AIM Expo hosted by Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV this Fall a local chapter of The Christian Motorcyclist Association provided the gear check service at the event. A gear check means you can visit all the booths without having to carry your helmet and other gear for test rides later in the day, no charge. We were amazed at how the club worked together to accommodate the needs of the event whilst being so friendly and organized and worked together. We were able to leave $2,000 worth of gear in their capable hands, in the third most popular travel destination in the United States, without fear.
Riders Helping Riders
A friend of ours was badly injured and a group of local riders put the money and time together to build a wheelchair ramp on his home. The ramp grants him easy access to and from the many months of surgeries and physical therapy.
On social media, there is a local ‘Riders in Distress Group’ that is only for posting when you are in trouble. I’ve witnessed riders leave work and use their personal vacation time or change their plans on their day off to drop everything in effort to bring a truck, trailer and a bottle of water to assist fellow riders although perfect strangers stranded on the side of the road with a broken clutch cable etc.
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Here’s some holiday activity from Total Motorcycle’s member forums:
Mr. Wrider in Colorado, not only has wonderful mechanic skills but also a heart of gold. This member offered to drive 4 hours away from home to assist a stranger on the forums with his motorcycle mechanical problem in efforts to get him back on 2 wheels as riding weather in Colorado is precious.
Mr. South Africa Paul challenged his friends… They all dressed up like Santa and rode together on the highways as far as 200 kilometers from their homes to donate to 50+ disabled adults and children for Christmas.
Mr. Brumbear used to dress up like Santa and visit the Children’s Ward of St. Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey. He stated “The way them kids would light up unhumph it’s a good thing to watch!!!’
Ms. Blues2Cruise duct taped antlers and a flashing red light to her helmet and went riding around town (in Canada!). She rode near public bus stops just to spread holiday cheer and make people smile. Ms. Blues has also been known to bring her motorcycle in the living room for the winter to adorn it with lights and ornaments.
Whilst we hope we inspired you to put some local charity rides on your to do list for next riding season, we’d like to give you some tips on how to attend and return safely.
10 Practices to Keep you safe in Large Group Rides
1. Don’t tailgate.
Following distance is SO important! Give yourself time to break if someone goes down so you can avoid a pile up.
2. Keep with the group but don’t stress if you fall behind.
A good group leader should stay at a pace even the slowest rider can keep up with. Don’t ride crazy just to keep from falling behind. You’ll reach the destination when you reach it. There’ll be hot BBQ and cold drinks when you get there.
3. Be mindful of who you ride next to.
Rider camaraderie at its best here but you still need to look out for number one. Watch for flasks before kickstands up and maybe line yourself up in front of that group. It happens.
4. Make sure your skill level is adequate.
All riders welcome but if you’re a new rider, make sure you know the basics. Make sure you can keep pace at the legal speed limits and can keep yourself in line when the group rides staggered.
5. Pass when it’s safe.
There should be an agreed upon method for passing. Not all charity rides have police escorts or specific point and rear guard riders.
6. No funny business.
No street racing, no all in fun intimidation, no look ma no hands or group rivalry. Street travel is all just based on painted lines on the road and an agreement to color inside the lines. Keep yours in check and let others do the same.
7. Ride Sober!!! Please!
Save your thirst for the after-party. Assign a DD (designated driver) before hand, lots of people are willing. If need be get a cab or an UBER to get home. Maybe book a cheap hotel room for the night.
8. Watch for things that are out of place.
Did the guy in front of you forget to buckle his saddlebags now they’re flapping in the wind? Who knows what he’s got packed inside? Maybe his bedroll or charity teddy bear collection is scewed and can fall off and create a road hazard. Spend 6 or 7 bucks at your local tool outlet next time you’re there and spring for a plastic capsule full of bungee cords to keep in your own bags. Lending one out might save somebody their life and the cost of a wrecked $25,000 bike someday.
Keep your bike well maintained so you don’t have bolts etc. rattle out while on the road. Be mindful of loose parts on other’s bikes as well. Consider keeping a roll of duct tape on hand in case somebody needs it to get to the next checkpoint.
10. Know the route.
Having a good idea of where the group is headed is always smart. If you’re lost you’re a liability to the group. Pre-program the route on your phone or navigation device or study a map ahead of time and keep a copy with you in case you need it.
Wishing you Happy Holidays from all of us at Total Motorcycle!
Thanks so much for being part of Total Motorcycle in 2018 and I look forward to seeing you for yet another awesome year of fun in 2019!
Wishing you and your family a warm Holiday Season full of smiles, great times and lots of riding in 2019!! – Mike Le Pard, Total Motorcycle.